Day 3 (Thursday, October 5) Part 1
When you serve as a juror, most of your time is spent waiting in the jurors room. Every day, we were told to be there at 9:00, but court never started until at least 10:00 or 10:30. Plus, for reasons that were never made clear, every time that a couple of witnesses were done testifying, the judge told us to take a break, and we were lead back to the juror’s room. This lead to a lot more waiting (usually an hour at a time) which annoyed the other jurors. I didn’t care. Not only did I find the trial to be both funny and fascinating, but while waiting in the jurors room, I read “The Rum Diary” while listening to violinist Itzak Perleman on my MP3 player. And since Itzak Perleman’s music is the most beautiful, most relaxing music in the entire world, I wondered if that might make me too relaxed–that, despite a tremendous amount of evidence against him, I would end up saying, “You know what? Fuck it! Who cares? Not guilty.” That being said, I made it a point to not listen to Korn, who I also had on my MP3 player, for fear that I would not only administer a guilty verdict, but that I would beg the judge to ignore the law and sentence Boyd to death by electrocution.
“Mr. Walsh, you may call your first witness, ” said the judge.
“Thank you, Your Honor. The government calls Jacoby Boyd to the stand.”
Shit! My false prediction that the defendant’s own sister wouldn’t testify against him cost me $20 in a bet with Juror #7, a rather odd-looking albino fuck who probably spends ninety percent of his free time practicing voodoo. Ha ha! I’m just kidding. After all, if the jurors were to run bets on the side, not only would we be violating eight or nine laws, but it would strongly impair our ability to render an honest verdict. And as you can imagine, I took my job of administering justice quite seriously. Anyway…I looked at Terrence when Jacoby was called to testify. The trial should’ve ended right then, because the biggest look of fear and guilt crept across his face. Jacoby walked up to the witness stand like a zombie. She was staring straight down at the floor while walking up there, and she moved at an extremely slow pace. I got the impression (as did other jurors, who later told me this) that she was on drugs. The court clerk told her to raise her right hand. She did. “Do you swear to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth?” She didn’t say “so help you God,” and I had mixed feelings about this. As an atheist, I saw it as a tremendous sign of progress–all that was left to do now was to eliminate the In God We Trust sign from the wall. On the other hand, in my own murder trial (when I kill Justin Nadal for not returning the drum that I let him borrow) I would like to “swear to God,” and then, once I get caught lying, remind the court that I’m an atheist who is therefore under no obligation to tell the truth. But this is not an essay about the murder of Justin Nadal. It’s an essay about the murder of Deron Powell, and the tragic factors that allowed a schizophrenic, twenty-seven-year-old insurance salesman to help assign blame for the murder. Anyway, when she was asked to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, Jacoby responded with a barely audible “Yes.” The court clerk then asked her to state her name and the borough that she lives in. There was a long pause, and Jacoby, barely audible, said, “Jacoby Boyd.” The judge asked her to speak up. There was another long pause before she answered again. The judge asked her to state what borough she lives in. She started to cry, and I wondered why that question made her so sad. I concluded that she must have just gotten back from vacationing in Ireland, and now she was depressed that she had to return to the United States. But then, being an expert on human behavior, I concluded that that probably wasn’t the case. No, I had a hunch that she was crying because she was about to send her brother to jail for the rest of his life. The defendant, now at the throes of utter desperation, decided that he needed to create some kind of a diversion, so he attacked his own lawyer. “MAN, THAT’S MY FUCKIN’ SISTER!” he shouted. “HOW YOU GONNA LET HER GET UP THERE? THAT’S MY FUCKIN’ SISTER, MAN!!!” He was now standing, and just before he could connect his fist with Guardanino’s face, four court officers tackled him to the floor. The court clerk ran up to the jury box and said, “You guys have to leave right now! Right now!” We were quickly exited from the court room, and I wondered why. What if Boyd had killed one of the court officers? Wouldn’t that be a useful thing for the jury to witness? Jacoby had been crying before, but now, as we exited the courtroom, she was bawling her eyes out. Again, this could have been for one of two reasons. It was either because her brother’s tantrum had magnified her feelings of guilt over testifying against him, or it was because she was now envisioning the breathtaking views of Ireland’s Wicklow Mountains, whereas before, she was merely envisioning the city of Dublin. Regardless, as we were being lead back to the jurors room, one question kept going through my mind again and again: before court today, had Terrence Boyd been listening to Korn?
“Watch. When we go back out there, the defendant will probably be in handcuffs,” said Juror # 2.
“Really?” I asked. “What’s he going to do if a spider crawls across his forehead? Do you think his attorney will brush it off for him, or do you think that he’ll just start smashing his head against the table? If he smashes his head on the table, the judge will probably think that he’s flipping out again.”
The room fell silent. This was either because they were all thinking about the answers to my questions, or because they weren’t quite sure how to deal with me yet. It was probably the latter, but I had more questions.
“Are murderers even afraid of spiders? What if a tarantula crawls on him?”
This prompted Juror #12 to ask a question that I found to be very valid, even though it had nothing to do with spiders: “How did you get picked to become a juror?”
“I don’t know,” I said, “I think it’s because I was reading a book at the time.”
I had another question, but I didn’t ask it out loud. When Boyd flipped out, why didn’t the judge (like in the movies) pound his gavel and say things like, “Mr. Boyd, one more outburst like that and you’ll be held in contempt of court!”? How disappointing!
At 11:45 (about an hour later), we were lead back into the courtroom. Jacoby Boyd wasn’t on the stand. More importantly, Guardanino was standing behind the defendant’s table, but Terrence Boyd wasn’t there! Did he escape? “Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, due to the events of this morning, we obviously need a lot of time to calm things down and get situated, so we’re going to give you an extra hour for lunch, “said the judge, “Be back here at 1:45. Have a pleasant lunch.” I knew exactly what Boyd was up to! He intentionally went ape shit so that we would get an extra hour for lunch and then reward him by clearing him of all charges. He’s a crafty one, that Terrence Boyd! Since I had an extra hour for lunch, I thought about walking across the Brooklyn Bridge, but I didn’t want people to think that I was going to try to fake my death again. Instead, I sat in the jurors room and flipped through Metro, one of those free, shitty newspapers that are still better than the twenty-five cent New York Post. I read my horoscope, and it said:
In order to prevent needless frustration, go with the flow.
Go with the flow? Hell, this trial has been the best thing that’s ever happened to me! I read my horoscope out loud to Juror #11. He laughed and said, “I’m a Cancer. My horoscope is “A disagreeable outlook will be reflected by a poorly handled job.” We both laughed, not knowing at the time that, by the end of the trial, those words were going to end up being disturbingly accurate.
October 5, 2006